Posted by: Shanna Germain | 12/08/2009

Pg. 187: Keep Turning Our Way

Sun through the trees. It’s turning fall here. Which is nothing like fall anywhere else I’ve ever been.


The friends I’m staying with at the moment have a gaming system and a couple of copies of Rock Band. I’ve always loved music, but I can’t -make- music for the life of me. I blame this faulty musical ability on two things:

  1. My parents, who raised me listening to musicians like Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin. Fantastic poets, fantastic wordsmiths, but couldn’t sing a lick, any of them. So, I became a poet instead of a singer.
  2. My middle school, which only had two flutes available for students. Everyone wanted to play the flute (I don’t know why they wanted to play the flute; I wanted to play the flute because I’d seen the size of the trombone case and was NOT about to carry that sucker around all day). So, we put our names in a hat and whoever’s name got drawn got to play the flute. I didn’t get picked. Thus, while everyone else was learning about rhythm and chords, I was hammering away at my bird house in wood shop.

One of my friends here has a very good voice. I mean, very good. The kind that’s actually nice to listen to. And he says I have a passable voice, that I just need to learn how to use it (And if you knew this person, you would know that “passable” is a serious compliment). So, I’m learning. I am an … I forget the term. Kind of high. Alto? Something like that. Which means I’m learning how to try and hit those ridiculous low notes that make me sound like a bullfrog. I’m also trying to learn what it means to be “jump octaves” and all these other terms. “To make your voice do that, just jump an octave.” What? Right. Okay.

So, I’ve been singing. I do best with slow songs, the ones that give me enough time to breathe in between lyrics and to laugh at myself. Last night, it was Rambling Man by the Allman Brothers.

Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man
Trying to make a living and doing the best I can
When it’s time for leaving, I hope you’ll understand
That I was born a rambling man

And it got me thinking about why some people travel and some people don’t. Are we really born to ramble? Do we learn it? Is it fear that keeps us from traveling, or a genuine lack of desire?

I don’t think I was born a traveler. I always knew that I wanted something different from what I was born into. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my family or their life — I did — but I wanted more. I always felt too bookish, too geeky, too quiet, too anti-social, too out-of-place. When I was a kid, I used to pretend that I had homework, just so I could spend more time with my nose buried in a book instead of doing “social” things. It wasn’t that I wanted to escape. It was that I wanted to experience.

Of course, traveling is scary when you start it, if you haven’t been raised in a traveling culture/family. It’s damn scary. Even small steps seem huge. The first time I moved from my little town to the “big” city of Syracuse, I was scared out of my mind. I couldn’t even drive on the highway. Then, I moved across the country with the love of my life. Drove there. Crashed my car on the way. It was amazing and exhilarating and freak-out inducing. Then, I had the chance to begin to travel internationally with a woman who was both a boss and a friend. She guided me through the process, step-by-step, until I became what I am today, which is a fairly solid international traveler.

I’m grateful to all of those people– family, friends, loved ones, bosses — I really am. I’m not sure I would have been able to fulfill my desire to travel without their help and guidance and shoves.

These days, I am a rambling man, as it were. (I tried singing “rambling woman” but it doesn’t fit so well. It screws up the rhythm or meter or whatever the hell that is). I’ve begun dreaming of places. Back to Scotland? Off to South Africa? Brazil? Ireland? My feet are getting itchy to see somewhere new, even though I know I’m not ready to take a new leap yet. I have a few months of work and whatnot before I can even begin to think about traipsing off somewhere.

In the meantime, I’ll keep working on my voice. Jumping octaves can’t be as hard as jumping continents, right?

Far and fast, s.


Just can’t wait to get on the road again.
The LIFE I love is makin’ music with my friends

~Proper Lyrics from On the Road Again

Just can’t wait to get on the road again.
The WIFE I love is makin’ music with my friends

~How I always heard the lyrics from On the Road Again. I used to think that “makin music” was a euphemism for sex, to which I thought, “No wonder he wants to get on the road again! His wife is having sex with all his friends. Poor guy!”




  1. I don’t know much about history,scientology, biology or astrology for that matter but I do know that I am a Sagittarian (Dec 18 for those wishing to send gifts or acknowledge the passing of another full moon) and we are born to travel. Always ready to go, I carry my passport and a pocket full of money with me jsut in case…

    A good read is Exit the Rainmaker by Jonathan Coleman, maybe one day soon…

  2. Ooh, Sagittarian. I wonder if that does have something to do with travel-lust…

  3. “Is it fear that keeps us from traveling, or a genuine lack of desire?”

    I am a genuine homebody who’s married to a natural born nomad. Some people seem to be born with the traveling gene. I am a naturally timid and fearful person, so while it’s not my first choice, I have grown in unaccountable ways from our adventures and have no regrets.

    Have you considered South America–Montevideo or Buenos Aires?

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